Using el Preterito Indefinido combined with cuando + Preterito Imperfecto

We use El Pretérito Indefinido for a new action in the past, which interrupts another action that was already taking place.
Read and listen to these examples:

Cuando me duchaba, sonó el teléfono.
When I was having a shower, the phone rang.

Cuando Elisa entraba en clase, se cayó.
When Elisa was entering the room, she fell down.

Cuando nosotros veníamos del mercado, tuvimos un accidente.
When we were coming back from the market, we had an accident.

Cuando ellos comían en ese restaurante, la policía detuvo a un ladrón.
When they were eating in that restaurant, the police arrested a thief.

In the examples above, the subordinate clause introduced by cuando uses El Pretérito Imperfecto in order to indicate that an action was already happening, while the verb in main clause is in El Pretérito Indefinido to express the newly-begun action.

See also:

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Cuando nosotros veníamos del mercado, tuvimos un accidente.
When we were coming back from the market, we had an accident.


Cuando Elisa entraba en clase, se cayó.
When Elisa was entering the room, she fell down.


Cuando me duchaba, sonó el teléfono.
When I was having a shower, the phone rang.


Cuando ellos comían en ese restaurante, la policía detuvo a un ladrón.
When they were eating in that restaurant, the police arrested a thief.


Q&A

Clara

Kwiziq community member

13 June 2019

2 replies

Scoring.

I’ve noticed that my score on level B1 is not increasing from 85% despite continually getting all quizzes correct. It decreases but doesn’t increase. I’ve also noticed that this particular question in level B1 continúes to remain at 80%, again despite continually getting it right. Please could you check this out for me.

Muchas gracias.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

14 June 2019

14/06/19

Hola Clara

Someone in our team will be looking into it soon. We'll let you know as soon as we can.

Que tengas un buen fin de semana.

Inma

Clara

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2019

14/06/19

Gracias Inma e igualmente, que tengas un buen fin de semana :)

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